Prisons invited to see storytelling video service

In late February, before the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, HMP Lowdham Grange invited teams from HMPs Stafford, Buckley Hall and Nottingham for a day of fun, puppets and storytelling with Inside Media, Lowdham Grange’s in-prison media studio.

Throughout the day, the invited guests looked at “It’s Storytime”, a service provided by Inside Media that enables the filming and creation of bedtime stories told by prisoners to their families.

The Inside Media team is comprised of talented media and IT tutors at Lowdham Grange, as well as serving prisoners who are studying and developing skills in creative media such as video editing, photography, film and even coding for computer games.

Upon arrival, the visiting prison teams whad a question and answer session with the Inside Media team on how Its Storytime works and benefits it brings to prisoners.

Afterwards, visitors were given a tour and demonstration on how the storytelling service is delivered. Firstly, they were taken to Inside Media’s greenscreen room, complete with filming equipment, puppets and popular children’s stories such as “The Gruffalo” and “The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom” among many. There, guests had a go at filming their rendition of their chosen stories.

Once filming was complete, the guests were then taken to the IT suite, where prisoners from the Inside Media Team well versed in video production software like Adobe Premier Pro and After Effects got to work turning the filmed footage into an engaging story video.

Once the editing was finished, Inside Media could showcase another innovation from the Storytime experience. All videos are uploaded onto a specialised streaming platform. Prisoner families are given an account on the platform, where they can view stories from their family members as soon as they are uploaded. The platform has “internet banking” levels of security, ensuring that uploaded videos remain accessible only to the prisoner’s family.

Another key feature of the platform is that families can request specific stories to be read. This means for example, that if a prisoner’s child wants the “Very Hungry Caterpillar” to be read, then the prisoner in question will be notified of this.

After hearing testimonials from HMP Styal and Risley (the two other prisons Inside Media are currently delivering to) on the importance this service provides and how prisoners are literally queueing up to record a story or message, all of the attendees were keen to adopt the service as soon possible.

The truly magical services Inside Media offers to serving prisoners, both at Lowdham Grange and others is ground-breaking.

Stuart Hall, Manager for Inside Media shared his thoughts on the visit, saying:

“The aim of the day was to highlight the importance of keeping families connected through a medium that young people can understand.  Hearing an absent loved one’s voice is important but seeing them sail the seven seas or walk the savannah with our intrepid lion cub, Leo is truly magical.”

Maintaining family bonds is at the core of all the things Inside Media does and an ethos of “it’s all about the children” is prevalent. Prisoners get to form a real bond with their kids, let families know that they are fit and well and maintain a virtual presence in their lives.